Tamarind is a sweet and sour fruit that comes from pods, originally from Africa, but also very abundant in Mexico. These tangy seeds can be eaten fresh from the tree, or the way I prefer it, made into a paste and used in recipes. When I was in San Jose’ del Cabo, a Mexican town just down the road from Cabo San Lucas, we were served Tamarind Margaritas. These pleasantly spiced drinks were so refreshing, and very unique to my palate. I loved every sip. I’ve also enjoyed Tamarind in Indonesian sauces prepared with beef. I found that the sweet and sour fruit compliments the fattiness of meat, and tenderizes it beautifully, so it’s easily sliced.
You can buy Tamarind Paste already prepared, so you don’t have to husk pods and make your own blend. This thick and fragrant paste is easily spooned into a saucepan to build a mouthwatering sauce, so you can add any kind of meat, or vegetables. Since tacos are something I adore, and the flavors of tamarind go so nicely with protein, I thought a chicken taco recipe that really popped with flavor was in order.
I poached chicken breasts in the tamarind sauce, along with some sliced onions to create a shredded chicken mixture that tastes super yummy on top of a lightly charred tortilla. This is one of those recipes that you can add everything in the pot, and walk away for a half hour or so, and let the cooking happen. I topped my tacos with shredded red onion and lettuce for a crispy crunch to counterbalance the creamy, tangy, and most succulent shredded chicken. Every bite brought me back to sipping that margarita on the veranda of that farm-to-table restaurant in Mexico and by the way, Tamarind Paste will store in your refrigerator for months and months, so it’s definitely worth the investment.
1/4 cup Tamarind Paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha or hot sauce
pinch of salt
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 small white onion, sliced
12 corn tortillas
red onion, sliced (soak in water for 30 minutes), optional
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add tamarind paste, soy sauce, sriracha, pepper and 1/2 cup water. Cook for 2 minutes until simmering, and add chicken and onions. Reduce heat to simmer and cover pan with lid.
- Cook chicken for 40-45 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove lid and using two forks, shred chicken in pan and stir to combine. Increase heat to medium, and continue to cook for 2 minutes, or until sauce reduces slightly.
- Char tortillas over open flame on stove top or under broiler. Top tortillas with chicken, onions and lettuce. Enjoy!